Google eyes Nokia in-flight Wi-Fi tech

Google is reportedly in talks to acquire Nokia’s Airborne broadband system in a move that could extend its services to the skies.

Traditional in-flight Wi-Fi systems based on satellite technology have suffered from patching coverage, slow speeds and high latency. However a new generation of satellites, paired with LTE technology, is improving matters.

Nokia’s LTE-based 12G A2G (Air to Ground) system delivers a direct link between the aircraft and the ground rather than using a satellite connection.

In-flight Wi-Fi

The suggestion is that Nokia is more focused on its 5G network technology, while Google is keen to expand the scope of its search and video platforms while potentially opening up a new revenue stream.

Bloomberg claims that talks are at an advanced stage, although the parties could still decide against a deal. Nokia declined to comment to TechRadar Pro, while Google had not responded to our requests at the time of publication.

Despite the limitations of in-flight Wi-Fi, business users are willing to pay a premium for access, while hotspots are included in the iPass global network.

Several airlines offer mile-high connectivity, with British Airways among those to sign up to the Inmarsat European Aviation Network (EAN), which uses a combination of S-band satellite connectivity and a ground-based LTE network built and operated by Deutsche Telekom.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.